Charlie Johnston wins the Freedom Marathon along the Springwater Trail on Saturday

by: GRESHAM OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Barlow High graduate Scott Overby accepts an award from race founder Steve Walters after winning the half-marathon. Runners from Alaska to New York converged on the Springwater Trail on Saturday to compete in the Freedom Marathon. The unique attraction of the race being that it was the third stop on the Quadzilla series — four marathons in four days. While most were barbecuing hot dogs and watching fireworks, this pack of runners was tackling 104.8 miles over the course of the holiday weekend.

Charlie Johnston out of Sparks, Nev., won the Gresham event in 2 hours, 56 minutes, 17 seconds. He was in town to visit his sister over the holiday when he saw the sign-ups for the Quadzilla series.

“It was one of the less lucid decisions of my lifetime,” he laughed.

Johnston, 30, picked up running coming out of college. After spending four months backpacking through Australia, he returned home and entered the work force.

“I was going to be sitting behind a desk 50 hours a week, and I needed to find a way to stay in shape,” Johnston said. “One day, I just kept running and got in 20 miles. That’s when I thought about doing a marathon, assuming it would be a bucket list thing, but I’ve just kept going with it. I don’t feel like my day has officially started until I’ve run.”

Five years later, he has completed 50 marathons, although this weekend marked the first time he has attempted back-to-back races, much less four in four days.

by: GRESHAM OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Charlie Johnston out of Sparks, Nevada, turns toward the finish line during his winning effort in Saturdays Freedom Marathon.

On Sunday, he completed the series by accomplishing his goal of breaking three hours in all four races. He won the Stars and Stripes race in Beaverton on Sunday in 2:56.17.

“I feel good. I’m sore but that’s to be expected,” he said. “It’s a mental thing — your body will do what your mind tells it to do.”

Christine Rockey, 43, out of Conway, SC, won the women’s marathon (2nd overall) in 3:22:11. Kelly Perry out of Rhododendron was the top local finisher with a top-10 finish in the women’s competition.

? The Freedom half-marathon was won by Barlow High graduate Scott Overby, now a teacher living in Germany. The 30-year-old covered the 13.1-mile course in 1:16.50, coming in more than 20 minutes ahead of his nearest pursuer.

He hit the half-way point slightly ahead of his pace to break his goal of 1:20:00, but his watch battery expired on the return trip leaving him to guess at his pace on his way to the finish line. He actually moved quicker on his way back, averaging a 5:51-per-mile pace.

“There were so many runners out on the course today that there was always someone there to encourage you,” Overby said.

The women’s half-marathon featured a much tighter finish with Diana Robinson out of Bellingham and Sarah Courtney out of Corvallis trading the lead back and forth before Robinson surged ahead to stay with about two miles to go.

“We got to mile 11 and I had caught up to her again, and it was that time where you had to decide whether you wanted to go for it or not,” Robinson said.

The 46-year-old went for it and hit the finish line in 1:48:31. Courtney crossed through about a minute later with a personal-best time of 1:49:34.

“From mile 8 through 11 that was the first time I’ve had the lead in a race like this. I was trying not to let myself get too excited, but it was a glorious couple miles,” Courtney said. “She deserves the win, it was a great comeback.”

A full list of the top-25 finishers in the marathon and half-marathon are listed on Page B4.

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